Published June 02, 2009
A 23-year-old convert to Islam with "political and religious motives" killed a soldier just out of basic training and wounded another in a targeted attack on a military recruiting center in Arkansas, police said.
The suspect, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, reportedly had been under investigation by an FBI joint terrorism task force after he traveled to Yemen and was arrested there for using a Somali passport. The probe was in its early stages and based on Muhammad's trip to Yemen, according to ABC News.
While there, Muhammad — a U.S. citizen from Memphis who is a convert to Islam and was previously known as Carlos Bledsoe — studied jihad with an Islamic scholar, Jihadwatch.org reported.
Muhammad told authorities that he approached the recruiting center in Little Rock by car on Monday and started shooting at two soldiers in uniform, according to a police report.
"He saw them standing there and drove up and shot them," Lt. Terry Hastings told The Associated Press. "That's what he said."
Interviews with police show Muhammad "probably had political and religious motives for the attack," Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas said.
Muhammad was not part of any terrorist group, nor was his attack part of a larger conspiracy, according to Thomas.
"We believe that it's associated with his disagreement over the military operations," the police chief said.
The two soldiers who were shot had completed basic training within the past two weeks and were not regular recruiters, said Lt. Col. Thomas F. Artis of the Oklahoma City Recruiting Battalion, which oversees the Little Rock office.
William Long, 23, died, and Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, was wounded and in stable condition, according to Thomas.
Police arrested Muhammad along an interstate highway moments after the shootings. Thomas said Muhammad would be charged with first-degree murder, plus 16 counts of committing a terroristic act. Thomas said those counts result from the gunfire occurring near other people.
Witnesses told police that a man inside a black vehicle pulled up outside the recruiting center and opened fire about 10:30 a.m. Long fell onto the sidewalk outside the center, while Ezeagwula was able to crawl toward its door.
Police said an assault rifle and other weapons were found in Muhammad's car when he was arrested.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.